56 — By Capt. Bill Pike — December 2002
|Sweet glasswork and continental styling make this Italian import a treat for the eyes.|
Style-wise, the curvaceous, Italian-designed flying bridge motoryacht is the trendsetter these days. Drop by any marina in the country and you'll likely encounter several midrange motoryachts--and probably a few mondo motoryachts--that derive their appearance and panache from the famous Italian flair for fabulous fashion.
What makes great styling work, of course, is the stylist's ability to maximize style while engendering a smidgen of practicality. The extra visibility afforded by the familiar double-eye-shape side windows on most modern Italianate motoryachts is a good example of this, and so are the cockpit shade their elongated boat decks offer and the convenience of their lower helm stations, which are functional yet seamlessly blend with highly finished European decors.
The Italian-built Aicon 56 perfectly reflects this style. Not only has Italian designer Fulvio di Simoni taken the exterior layout of this creamily gelcoated, three-stateroom, three-head motoryacht well beyond contemporary thinking, he's also incorporated a level of practicality that's sure to give competitors a run for their money, both stateside and in Europe.
How did di Simoni do it? He simply moved the steering station on the flying bridge astern a half-dozen feet or so, which admittedly cuts lounge space on the boat deck but also frees up enough space below to create standing headroom at the lower helm, as well as to allow the installation of unusually large windshield panels. Is this important? I can't tell you how many times I've slammed my noggin' on the overhead of an Italian-style cruiser's lower helm station, then had to squint through its impossibly narrow, overly raked windshield.
There's another advantage to di Simoni's new take on the modern flying bridge configuration, although it requires some prefatory explanation. I guess because I'm generally a pretty lucky fellow, I wound up having to dock the 56 several times stern-first in a variety of slips at Miami's Miamarina on test day, both before and after our sea trials on Biscayne Bay. I used the steering station topside for this pleasant little chore, of course, although given the excellent visibility through the broad, sliding-glass door at the back of the saloon, I could have used the lower station just as easily. At any rate, handling the boat from the flying bridge for such a lengthy time eventually precipitated a revelation: Visibility aft was absolutely great! By simply facing toward the stern while standing to starboard of the engine controls--slick, fingertip-clickin' ZF Mathers electronic models, by the way--I could look straight down the cockpit stairwell and eyeball both the transom and the dock while backing down.
The fact that this so shocked my tender sensibilities during my test segues perfectly into a closely related bone I have to pick with most manufacturers of midrange, flying-bridge motoryachts these days, all with upper steering stations situated way forward of di Simoni's. Do you understand how challenging it is for the average gal or guy to back one of these babies up when the stern's impossible to see? Or the swim platform's impossible to see? Or the dock? Or the line handlers?
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.